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First Night in Bethlehem

Bethlehem 42

Image by Adam Reeder via Flickr

Departing from Phillie I had expected strict scrutiny as in July, with at least some invasive questioning. I rushed to the departure gate, thirsty, skipping the bathroom to find all of us being ushered onto the plane with just a single extra glance at our pass ports.

Then I remembered, it was Tunisia we were flying from before! Of course, we were suspect! Duh! Flying from the USA we were lily white! Clean and clear! What a difference.

Had an elderly Jewish lady from Florida as my seat mate, who was with a group of retirees going over to volunteer with the Israeli Army! Her grandson told her if they gave her an Uzi, he’s deserting!

Of course I engaged her in the conversation about Is/Pal conflict and she feels it is hopeless and the fault of the Brits who should have given the Palestinians a bona fide country when they divided up the land. She’s also certain that the Arabs will simply take over Israel by means of population growth in the next 100 years. This, I perceived as a negative.

Arrived at Ben Gurion, walked at least a mile to Immigration and got through with not a single question, changed money and flowed out to be met by Yusuf and a nice couple from London/Durbin, South Africa who have a church in the center of London where they minister to at least 35 ethnic groups.

Andrew intentionally has representatives from each group as a part of his leadership team, and it seems very successful! Would love to visit someday! We talked about Apartheid, and Racism in the Southern States. They visited Birmingham, AL and said that whites were always bringing up South Africa whenever they commented on Racisim in the States.

As an aside, they LOVE their British health care system, though it is abused by some scoundrels. Ha, another British family who prove those wrong who try to scare us about changing our health care system to ones “like England or Canada”.

Yusuf drove us to Bethlehem, and tells us Jews “like” Christian Arab Israelis and they have all the same rights as Jews. I question him about being in the Army, and he corrects himself..”well, no, not the army”  Hmm.

When I use a few Arabic words, I’m suddenly the spokesperson, and he begins each sentence with, “Mary”. He corrects each word, of course, for which I’m grateful, and he corrects me by telling me which words to use with Muslims vs. Christians.

Muriel,  Andrew (Pastor and wife from London) and I, are delivered by Yusuf to the Paradise Hotel on Manger Street in Bethlehem right down the street from Manger Square and the church of the Nativity! Manger Street apparently is the main street in town.

On walking into the hotel, the first thing I notice is the photo of Yasser Arafat in prominence. Second thing I notice and quickly divert my eyes, is all the men sitting around sipping coffee and looking as us as we arrive.

I already had looked into two or three of their eyes, before I realized what I was doing. Perhaps because they examine us so intently, as if we might know them, or they us.

I go to the bar for a bottle of water which costs three American dollars or 8 Shekels. Head up to room and get set for a shower and then quick nap (1/2 hour) before dinner.
Lots of salady food for me tonight, and now, I’m back, almost falling asleep as I type this

I’m tried, but can’t get on the internet..That’s okay.

So, tired. Tomorrow, up for breakfast, and Jerusalem with Elias.

One Response

  1. Finally, I figured out how to read your whole posting. I had to click the title…duh! I wonder if others don’t know that. too. Anyway, I was really relieved to hear that you made it to Bethlehem safely and have met to like-hearted new friends. Your guest house sounds interesting. Keep us posted! Miss you! Love, Jon

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